CALAIS, Maine (TheBlaze/AP) — A young man who was drinking and celebrating the Fourth of July tried to launch a firework off the top of his head, fatally injuring himself, authorities said Sunday.
Devon Staples and his friends had been drinking and setting off fireworks Saturday night in the backyard of a friend's home in the small eastern Maine city of Calais, said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. Staples, 22, of Calais, placed a fireworks mortar tube on his head and set it off, he said.
The firework exploded, killing Staples instantly, McCausland said.
His death is the first fireworks fatality in Maine since the state legalized fireworks on Jan. 1, 2012, authorities said.
Staples' brother, Cody, told the New York Daily News that the incident was a freak accident when the lighter Staples was holding caused the firework to go off.
“I was the first one who got there. There was no rushing him to the hospital. There was no Devon left when I got there,” Cody, 25, said. “It was a freak accident … But Devon was not the kind of person who would do something stupid. He was the kind of person who would pretend to do something stupid to make people laugh.”
Staples lived in Orlando, Florida where he used to dress up as Disney characters and was recently engaged.
“He loved it. He loved making people happy,” Cody told the New York Daily News. “Anyone who would want to give a tribute to Devon should go out and do something nice for someone. Show some love to someone you don’t know. That kid was all about showing people love.”
Calais is on the Canadian border near New Brunswick.
State fire marshals were also investigating several other Fourth of July fireworks accidents involving injuries in Friendship, Jefferson, Lebanon and Woodstock. They said most of the accidents involved burns and eye injuries. McCausland said further details were expected to be released later Sunday.
In 2011, lawmakers voted to repeal a 1949 law banning fireworks, reasoning the industry would create jobs and generate additional revenue.
This story has been updated to include more information about Staples.